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Gong Camembert Electrique album cover
3.80 | 457 ratings | 33 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Radio Gnome Prediction (0:27)
2. You Can't Kill Me (6:18)
3. I've Bin Stone Before (2:36)
4. Mister Long Shanks/O Mother/I Am Your Fantasy (5:57)
5. Dynamite/I Am Your Animal (4:32)
6. Wet Cheese Delirium (0:31)
7. Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads (0:12)
8. Fohat Digs Holes In Space (6:22)
9. And You Tried So Hard (4:38)
10. Tropical Fish/Selene (7:36)
11. Gnome The Second (0:27)

Total Time: 39:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Daevid Allen ("Bert Camembert") / vocals, guitars, bass (9)
- Gilli Smyth ("Shakti Yoni") / vocals & voice (space whispers)
- Didier Malherbe ("Bloomdido Bad De Grass") / tenor sax, flute
- Christian Tritsch ("Submarine Captain") / bass, lead guitar (9)
- Pip Pyle / drums, percussion

- Edouard Louise ("Eddy Louiss") / Hammond organ & piano (3)
- Constantin Simonovitch / (phased) piano (5)

Releases information

Artwork: Daevid Allen ("Dingo")

LP BYG Records 529.353 (1971, France)
LP Virgin ‎- VC 502 (1974, UK)

CD Charly Records ‎- CD Charly II (1986, UK)
CD Charly Records ‎- CDCRH 111 (1996, UK) Remastered

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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GONG Camembert Electrique ratings distribution

(457 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

GONG Camembert Electrique reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars An undeclared start of the Radio Gnome trilogy (much like The Hobbit is like the prelude to Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings) as some characters are introduced here but not fully developped. They will take their world of sillyness to a point that most of the musicians will play one or two roles in the trilogy and actually taking a surname (or two) to fit the music.

As Daevid Allen could not head back with Soft Machine to England because of passport problem , he stayed in Normandy and soon joined a hippy community-band (it was that or the catholic youth choir ) and started with Welsh freakpoet and girlfriend Gilly Smyth (later to be his wife) this weird Planet GonG world and this probably came after they overdosed of over-ripe Camembert cheeses.

If you take out the four short tracks that bookends both sides of the vinyl (they total 1.5 min), you are down with seven tracks, two of which are still regularly performed in concert nowadays - Dynamite and You Can't Kill Me. Side 1 is very energetic but to tell you what happens on a given track would take at least one page per track. The regular and irregular but constant changes in each track is a trademark of GonG and certainly helps fitting well with the concept and even sillier/funnier with the lyrics.

Side 2 is more endearing to me with their first real masterpiece in Fohat Digs Holes In Space that strongly hints at the stuff they will be reknown for in YOU. Tropical Fish/Selene is another gem that should be heard. Even at this early stage, Allen uses some of his Glissando (aluminium bar used to slide over the strings but not resulting as the bottleneck used in blues) guitars effects , but although Trisch doubles in on bass and guitar , they had a guest guitarist also. Didier Malherbe is marvelous on sax. Pip Pyle will later be seen in Canterbury bands.

The unfortunate thing about early GonG albums is that they were released under so many different labels , versions and semi-legal releases that it is quite hard to follow their Gnome Trip unless you have the inner sleeve to go along with. I despaired for years but recently Charly released a miniLp sleeve (pricey but strongly recommended to appreciate Gong to the utmost) under the Victor label: Catalogue number VICP 61171. Finally the GonG oeuvre getting respect.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is interesting but a bit overrated album. One can easily recognize influences from Barret era PINK FLOYD, some bizarre and comic Zappa surrealism and sax playing a la VAN DER GRAFF. Overall somewhat too adventurous and not very accessible listening, even though several strong tracks are catching up on the first listen, like "You Cant Kill Me", the BYRDS-like folk-rock guitar of "Tried So Hard" and a proto-type of their later space-jam trips "Fohat Digs Holes in Space". Radio Gnome concept was already introduced here in several tracks and a cover design. A decent early GONG, nothing more than that.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Posh cheese, cheap as chips

In the UK in the early 1970's, a number of bands attempted to stimulate interest by releasing budget priced albums of previously unreleased material. The hope was that such albums would sell widely due to their low price, thus encouraging people to investigate their full price catalogue.

Bands like Can ("Limited edition"), and Faust ("The Faust tapes") released such albums, Gong's contribution being this album, "Camembert Electric". Unlike the Faust and Can albums though, this album had previously been released as a bona fide Gong album in other countries in 1971 (the sleeve asserts that it was Gong's first album). Unfortunately, what these bands or their record labels failed to appreciate was that by releasing the sub-standard contents at a very cheap price, all they would succeed in doing is convincing people that they should steer well clear of anything else by them. In fairness, this is the best of the bunch (not that it has much to compete with), at least offering hints of the bright future in store for Gong.

At the time of its UK release in 1974, "Camembert Electric" sold for less than a quarter of the price of a normal LP. With so much exciting new music being made around that time, many people like myself were keen to try out as many bands as we could. The opportunity to sample a band such as Gong for little more than the price of a single was not therefore to be missed.

The line up for the album does not included Steve Hillage, although he would join the band well before 1974. It does however included the late Pip Pyle. It is though Daevid Allen who dominates the album, occasionally sharing the song writing with Christian Tritsch. His performance on songs such as the highly original "I've bin stone before" is simultaneously striking and bemusing. Just when it seems things cannot get any weirder, Gilli Smyth pops up with some space whispers on "I am your fantasy/animal". Her squealing, tuneless style of delivery is just a little too off the wall to warrant any credibility. In another bizarre twist, "And you tried so hard" is a highly melodic, almost pop number, with strong lead guitar played by Tritsch and, dare I say, proper singing.

It is though the incessant discordant rhythms which are the most obvious characteristic of the music here. The frantic rhythms and repetitive chants are mildly amusing but of little intrinsic value. If nothing else, the album serves to prove how the arrival of Hillage's guitar would lead to an instantly noticable improvement.

One notable effect at the end of each side of the LP, which has been lost forever with the advent of the compact disc, is that the music continues into the run off groove creating a perpetual sound.

In all, a rather messy, unfocused album which demonstrates the band's great sense of adventure and willingness to experiment, but fails to harness that energy in a coherent product.

This albums should not be confused with the similarly titled "Camembert Eclectique" released in 1995, which is a fans only collection of studio demos etc.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Gong is a strange band for me. On one hand I think they have a great sense of humour and many parts in their music intrigue me very much, but on the other hand there are parts in their songs that irritate me and keeps me from really liking them. My feelings for this second album Camembert Electrique is just as it was on their debut. Ambivalent.

The overall lyrical concept is cooked up in some stoned minds I´m sure, because this is pretty weird and psychadelic. The music is very well played though and there are influences from both rock, Jazz and Canterbury. I think I hear some Mother of Invention too, but maybe it´s just the crazy humour they have in common. There are some pretty sharp and precise playing that impress me in songs like You Can´t Kill Me, Tropical Fish/Selene and And You Tried So Hard, but it can get a bit repetitive at times. I enjoy a song like Mister Long Shanks/O Mother/I Am Your Fantasy but it is mostly the O Mother part I like. There is only one whole song I dislike really and that is Dynamite/I Am Your Animal. Gilli Smyth´s moaning and whispering irritate me. What´s the point with the moaning. It really annoys me. Fohat Digs Holes in Space also have a way too long and almost ambient intro that I think is a waste of time.

The musicians are outstanding on this album. I´m especially impressed with drummer Pip Pyle and I love the stoned vocals from Daevid Allen. There are lots of saxophone playing on the album and sax and flute player Didier Malherbe has to be mentioned here too as he is really gifted.

The production is much better than on the debut and at times it´s really powerful when Gong lets go.

Camembert Electrique is a mixed album for me and therefore it only deserves 3 stars. There are excellent songs here though that deserves far more, but my overall rating is 3 as Camembert Electrique lacks the last pieces to make a puzzle.

Review by obiter
3 stars A welcome blast from the past and yet there's a difficulty with the first side of this album.

In the intervening years, well decades actually (but that sends shivers down my spine) I seem to ahve lsot a frame of reference. I'm sure it's entirely my fault (perhaps it's senility) but side one sounds like weird, self-obsessed, or maybe just self-centered meanderings tinkling and monaing across some unsuspecting vinyl (which probably hoped that it would end up quite a bit more fulfilled). I suppose to be as psotiive as I can be about this you could compare O Mother to Sigur Ros without the soulful vocals and haunting music (hmm that doesn't leave much ... well maybe you ge the picture).

I suppose the bottom line is this really is music of a different age. An age that's lost on me now.

Since football is a game of two halves (Liverpool-Milan springs to mind) or two legs four halves extra time & penatlies (Rangers & Fiorentina) we have to give Sdie Two a fair crack of the whip. And, what'd ya know? It's just great.

Fohat Digs Holes in Space is pure Gong, pure Cantebury. You can always tell it's Cantebury because the busy music lifts your spirits and you can't help but smile. And you tried so hard is a bit more main stream, but hey!, you're in smile mode, all is well with the world and it rolls pleasantly along.

trpoical Fish is very jazzy with a few obligatory weird lyrics thrown in.

what can you say ... it's an album that sounds flaked out: the first side is very dated (or is that just shrouded in a druggy haze), the second retains the ability to engage this jaded and cynical listener decades after it was written.

Review by Gooner
4 stars Not a masterpiece, but definitely a classic. Not something I listen to often, but when the mood strikes it certainly hits the spot. The only way it works is to listen from beginning to end in its entirety. You can't review this album without mentioning the elephant in the room(i.e. drugs). These guys were smoking a lot of grass when they made this one, and I get the feeling they were drinking a lot of red wine too(Didier Malherbe's wonky sax solos). The entire album has a drunken/stoned aura about it. The early Gong classic here is _Wet Cheese Delirium/Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads/Fohat Digs Holes In Space_ which is the carbon copy of everything to follow concerning Daevid Allen's glissando guitar and his involvement with the Gong Radio Gnome Trilogy. It's worth mentioning that this album is way ahead of its time and timeless in an _indie rock_ fashion. I sometimes get the feeling that modern bands like Sebadoh or Pavement would've died to make an album like this. I also wonder if this album was influential on the space rock scene that came out of Detroit in the mid-90s in relation to bands like Fuxa and Medusa Cyclone. Also of note is the track _Tried So Hard_. Had this track been given the proper promotion by a major record company back in the day, it could've fit nicely in between something by The Byrds or The Zombies. Really, this is a 3 star album - but it gets an extra star for being unique. There's nothing quite like Gong's Camembert Electrique. A classic!
Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Gong is a bit strange company. French band with australian beatnik as leader.Do you really think they play Canterbury sound? I am not sure at all.

This album is strange as well. Psychodelic mix of space rock and specific humor ( ok, they say it's Canterbury humor), very complex ( better to say - chaotic) structure of compositions. Very unusual whisperings of Gilli Smyth. That music is really strange.

There are elements of free jazz, freaky hippy atmosphere. It's difficult to name this music masterpiece. But from other hand, the album has very magnetic atmosphere.

For me, their music of that period is some Zappa's equivalent in European ground. I can't say, why I like this music in some sense ( to be honest, Radio Gnome Trilogy is more attractive for me, but the music generally is similar). I think it's mainly freaky atmosphere with this crazy chaotical music pieces. That is it.

All in all, Gong is interesting band with very different albums quality. I think "Camembert Electrique" is interesting one, but far from their best. To everyone interested in first listening of Gong music, I will recommend another album, Angel's Egg. And I think as well,that Camembert Electrique is often overrated.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Gong can be a bit of a frustrating experience. Their experimental compulsions make their albums as much of a hit as they can be a miss. Their style is highly eclectic, reminding me of Gentle Giant, Soft Machine and obvious space-rock overtones from Floyd and Hawkwind.

You can't Kill Me is a classic, a calling card for their unique sound. A good tag to describe it with would be space-jazz. I also hear some echoes of VDGG here. There's goofy humour aplenty as well in this music, as testified by the delirious I've Bin Stone Before. But Mister Long Shanks won't get them high up in my list of competent song writers any time soon. Dynamite on the other hand is another essential Gong track.

One of the most compelling moments on the album is Fohat Digs Holes in Space, especially for its opening 3 minute acid-trip. The second part is an ordinary psychedelic rock tune, right from 1967. Nothing special. The only highlight further on is Tropical Fish, although it also can't make up its mind between being an old-fashioned psychedelic pop-tune or going for a full fledged space-trip.

Uneven and fascinating. Two words that pretty much sum it up for a lot of Gong albums. 2.5 stars

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Camembert Electrique is often considered to be the first proper release from Daevid Allen and his Gong. The band were still in the beginning stages of their development of their The Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy storyline that would be properly introduced on the next album. Still there are quite a few hints of this transition featured on this particular release.

Both sides of the record begin and end with sound effects that might have lost some of their purpose with the transitioned to the digital format but the rest of the album is still quite a fun little ride nonetheless! The music here might be labeled as Canterbury but this is material is far from anything that can be connected to Soft Machine, Egg or even Caravan. This is psychedelic rock at its finest. Starting with the catchy You Can't Kill Me the listener is transported to a new exciting world of sounds and experiences filled with humorous moments and general quirkiness.

From what I could gather this album was originally distributed by Virgin Records at a price of a single. This plan was originally used to promote Faust's compilation studio album, The Faust Tapes, and it did expose the band to a much wider audience. Since this type of pricing didn't allow the albums to be charted on the regular music charts the whole idea became useless in the long run. In case of Gong this tactic proved to be quite successful especially since the band only began introducing their artistic vision to the audience and having an already established fan base to do this to might be considered a dream come true for any new rising artist.

Personally I've never been a big fan of Gong and their trippy storytelling but Camembert Electrique definitely caught my attention ever since I've heard it for the first time and still enjoy it up to this day. This is a good, but non-essential album for everyone interested in exploring the early taken on the band's sound.

**** star songs: Radio Gnome Prediction (0:27) You Can't Kill Me (6:18) I've Bin Stone Before (2:36) Mister Long Shanks/O Mother/I Am Your Fantasy (5:57) Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads (6:36) Fohat Digs Holes In Space (6:22) And You Tried So Hard (4:38) Tropical Fish/Selene (7:36)

*** star songs: Dynamite/I Am Your Animal (4:32) Wet Cheese Delirium (0:31) Gnome The Second (0:27)

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A psychedelic tapestry of hyper weirdness and acid fuelled needlepoint of space rock

Gong's seminal "Camembert Electrique" appeared in the weird year of 1971, the same year we were inundated by the concentrated bizarreness of the likes of Can, Magma, and Faust but that was Krautrock, this is Canterbury and it's the oddest Canterbury you will encounter. Actually you can't really pigeon hole the band as they are unpigeonholeable; but its voraciously psychedelic. Gong were more than travelling Felini-esque circus, more than avant-garde musicians, more than cosmic clowns, or space rocking infidels, they were on another planet altogether. I read that somewhere. It's an avid description. The line up changed more than Daevid Allen's brain patterns, but he stuck with them despite a revolving door policy of members. On this album we have Christian Tritsch on twangers and bass, Didier Malherbe on sassy sax and floating flute, Gilli Smyth the space whisperer sexpot, Pip Pyle on boom booms, Daevid Allen on Daevid Allen's stuff (vocals, guitars, bass, crazy sounds), Eddy Louiss on keys, Constantin Simonovitch on a phased piano. That was Gong 1971. And what an album we have here!

After a creepy radio frequency subsonic intro the guitar riff locks in and the lyrics begin; "You can kill my father, You can kill my son, You can kill my children, With a gun, You can kill my family, My family tree, You can kill my body, baby, You can kill my body, baby, But you caaaaaaaaaaaaaaan't kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllll meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee." Ok, so it's not Shakespeare, but this was the Gong mentality, not to be taken seriously, but rather with a grain of salt, or is that hashish? The opening song features quite simple lyrics, strange as you can get beyond the limit, and repetitious guitar riffs with psych prog freak out effects. If you don't like this track, give up, as its one of Gong's most eclectic. I had heard this one on their wonderful "Live etc" as the opener of the concert and it is actually better than this, but still this rocks hard with a great riff, and is as accessible as the band gets. I accidentally had 'You can't Kill Me' playing whilst watching a YouTube video of a Whizbang chicken plucker and it was hilariously appropriate.

Next, a spacey sound emanates followed by an estranged vocal ala The Residents! "I've been stoned before In Saint John's Wood crematorium I fell down with boredom Knee deep in the snow..." Clandestine and bad. This seamlessly is followed by the equally surreptitious, 'Mister Long Shanks/O Mother/I Am Your Fantasy'. A nice little cosmic spaced out medley with one redeeming factor. The lyrics. They are as bizarre as you can get; "I am your knee, A name shouted at the railway station, The voice that calls you, The candle drips your name, I am your fantasy."

'Dynamite' rocks out and grabs the attention, though not the high point of the album. This is followed by a wonderful event. Gilli Smyth's space whispering orgasmic moans. Dang she makes these albums stimulating and I adored her on the Radio Gnome trilogy. On 'I Am Your Animal' she whispers with sex crazed combative style, forcing a listener to take notice, "I am your animal watching your head, I have been following you, Walking behind you, Sleeping with you, Getting into your bed..." the rest is censored. This militant confrontational song will turn many away but it makes a nice diversion. Smyth's succulent voice of course returns on the infamous trilogy with such luscious lashings as 'I Am Your Pussy' and we all are forced to listen again. I must admit looking at her now, she has not aged well, but in the early 70s era of hallucinatory acid rock, Smyth was the quintessential Queen of queer quacked prog.

The next amusing medley is 'Wet Cheese Delirium/Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads/Fohat Digs Holes In Space' and this is a delightful indulgence. Strange, non conventional perhaps demented music played with dexterous style. I had set 'Fohat Digs Holes...' on repeat while I was washing the dishes and after 4 consecutive plays I had somehow managed to knock the plug out three times and make a watery mess. It is a great track and perhaps a taster of the best to come on Gong's Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy. The space rock is out of this universe, featuring one of the great mental instrumentals for Allen and co with blistering lyrics; "Well, mirror, mirror on the wall, Who's the biggest fool of all, Hallucinating freedom calls, What's freedom babe? You don't know!" You had to be there I guess. I don't mind this high strangeness personally as long as its entertaining, and entertaining this is.

One of these things doesn't belong here, 'And You Tried So Hard' is an oddball selection. It is more like The Byrds sound than anything Gongified. A very poppy track with cute lyrics; "Must be a way For you to make the big time, You gotta lay The lady at the right time, There'll come a day For drinkin' all the sky wine, You only say You're waiting for the right time, There'll come a time Just try and try against..." Whatever they are on about it works nicely on the album. The guitar riff is cool and psyched and the vocal style is rather conventional, almost like The Zombies, Them, or Troggs; perhaps a combination of these with The Byrds music. In any case it stands out among the other tracks and is one of their most adored tracks, featuring on "Best of Gong" compilations notably; lyrically it is more accessible too, until Smyth's soft vocals chime in, "I am not free I am not free, A hand flutters in my brain, Silken cords trembling into the waterfall, Where the wise brown frog Gives princely advice, But not to you or I." Thanks for those words of wisdom.

The order turns to more frenetic chaos with some delightful sax on 'Tropical Fish/ Selene'. The melody is all over the place and it is quite catchy after a few listens. It sounds in places like early Van der Graaf Generator, especially the sax motifs. The lyrics are once again off the wall: "Well shady lady what's your problem, Trying to buy a brand new husband? All I want to know is what happened To your latest ancient wisdom? She seems like a typical witch to me, She seems like a tropical fish to me, But you can't kid me it's like that back in Sydney." I wonder if they performed this at the Sydney Opera House. Strange interludes of free form jazzed up sax and keys add an ethereal ambience. I like the guitars after "hear the angels sing" and then those estranged vocals of Allen crying out "Seleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeene" , than the space witch whispers in hushed tones, "Spirit of the moon, My mind is made of you, Tell me what to do". It is a remarkable atmosphere no other band could achieve, though many have tried.

The last track is another quick fix that used to run into the groove on the vinyl album ad infinitum. So ends the classic Gong. It needs to be heard in its entirety to get full value. Get this album, along with the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, and you have the best of Gong.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars I must admit that I prefer the fusion of Pierre Moerlin's version of Gong to the earlier Daevid Allen Allen band. Not that this group didn't have talent. It's just that Allen's lyrics and vocals were just too... well... silly. And Gilli Smyth's "space whispers" come accross as a less irritating version of Yoko Ono.

That given, this band was very talented, and played some great music. Once you get past the weird, and sometimes annoying vocals, you can settle in to some fine spacy jamming. In particular, You Can't Kill Me and Fohat Digs Holes In Space have some excellent playing in them.

But give me "Expresso" over this any day.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Let the silliness begin. The rhythms are still a bit too rock'n'roll-like with Pip Pyle on batterie, but one great song, "Fohat Digs Holes in Space" (6:23) (10/10), reveals some of the Gong genius and prepares the world for the great space/trance stuff to come (and this before the arrival of Steve Hillage).

Pretty great drumming by Pip Pyle throughout (which must be challenging due to the strangeness of the songs). The rest is nonessential, even dispensable.

Three stars; an album to be experienced to see where Daevid Allen came from, to see some of that which was to come, and to hear "Fohat Digs Holes in Space."

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars Gong are one of the more important progressive rock bands in terms of taking rock into a whole different stratosphere than where it was before. CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE is not the inaugural message from the wacky Parisian moon travelers, but it provides a fairly apt prequel to what the RGI trilogy was to become.

The one problem that many classic Gong fans will point out almost instantaneously is that four vital members aren't yet in the band, namely Hillage, Moerlen, Howlett and Tim Blake. Blake not being here is more alien than you think (those that have heard the trilogy) simply because the keyboard pads he provided helped transform Gong into a space-rock outfit from the psychedelic rock without the spacey-ness. The overall sound of CE can best be described as hard-hitting, close-to-Cantebury psychedelic jamming rock.

''You Can't Kill Me'', ''Tropical Fish'' and ''Fohat Digs Holes in Space'' are the jammiest bunch of tracks here, with part of the latter somewhat reworking its way into ANGEL'S EGG. All have an excellent foundation (Christian Tritsch and Allen on guitar, Pip Pyle on drums) with Didier Mahlerbe's saxophone providing a quality top, but only ''You Can't Kill Me'' really sticks. ''And You Tried So Hard'' is the closest I've ever heard Gong get to the Cantebury sound, and it sounds poppier and saner than the rest of the album. ''I've Been Stoned Before'' sounds like the ultimate hippie-Church anthem (the organ does the trick), and the other two big tracks are more or less refined versions of the jam tracks. Notable little music tricks are the odd timing in ''O Mother'' (15/16 if I counted correctly), the playground- taunt-esque melody in ''Mr. Long Shanks'' and the chant that sounds like the ''Shave-and-a- Haircut'' rhythm in ''I Am Your Animal''.

From a personal standpoint, I love Gong, and this is one of my favourite albums to listen to. However, from a PA perspective, CE is not as proggy as the RGI trilogy to come. Even looking past that restriction, I find that CE is great only for Gong fans that want to hear where the RGI ideas sourced.

One odd note I found as a Gong fan; the last theme of ''Fohat Digs Holes in Space'' is the same as the opening theme of ''Perfect Mystery'' on the YOU album. Gong themes sure get around, don't they?

Review by Warthur
4 stars The first truly top-flight Gong album - really, the first top-flight album of Daevid Allen's career - might not quite have the epic, spacey passages brought to the table by Steve Hillage in future albums, but otherwise sees the band's classic sound firmly in place and firing all cylinders. The songs range from mildly updated psychedelia such as You Can't Kill Me, a hippy protest song spiced up with some killer sax from Didier Malherbe, to incredibly ahead-of-its-time material like You Tried So Hard - which, with its driving guitar line and earnest vocals, sounds in its first half like the sort of material the shoegazer/indie scene in Britain would cook up decades later, before the song breaks out into all kinds of experimental directions. The band's quirky sense of humour is in full force, and exists in perfect balance with its progressive musical aims - a fact that's true of precious few Gong albums from the early 1970s - so it's one of the absolute best places to start exploring the band's work.
Review by friso
4 stars Gong - Camembert Electrique (1971)

I've been a longtime listener of the Radio Gnome Trilogy (RGT), but finding this record on a vinyl is a different game. I was excited at first listen and what suprised me is the fact that 'Camembert Electrique' sounds very professional and well recorded - perhaps even better then the first two installments of the RGT. Of these four records that share the same style and ethos I think this one is most intense & bizarre, almost like avant-prog sometimes.

The album has some clear Canterbury/Zappa influences, but Daevid Allen' craziness has its own flavour. The lyrics already hint towards the themes of the RGT on some tracks, on other tracks it just plain silly in a hippiej fashion like on 'I've been stone before'. The musicianship is quite frantic on some tracks 'You can't kill me' & 'Dynamite', on other tracks the vibes are more relaxing. The second side is overall a bit more attractive for the progressive rock listener, whilst the first side is more psychedelic and acadic.

Conclusion. Very good record, though I'd prefer the less frantic approach of 'Flying Teapot'. For fans of Gong this is not to be skipped, fans of Canterbury and psychedelic/space rock might also want to give this a spin. Four stars!

Review by Tom Ozric
5 stars Friday 13th March, 2015. Listening to this mind-blowing Space-Prog offering from Canterbury eccentric Daevid Allen, who has sadly passed away this day, I dedicate my rather simplistic review of this wonderfully joyous album in memory of him. In those heady, early-60's days of self-consciousness and discovery, guitarist Daevid Allen graced some of those Wilde Flowers/Soft Machine/Caravan members with his prescence and incredible knowledge of obscure music/artists of the past, and pointed out their revolutionary ideas, which wormed their way into the conciousness of all folks within miles of him. Soft Machine with Daevid were right up there with Syd Barrett Floyd and even further stretching than the revolutionary Beatles offerings. The first, entirely band oriented album, Camembert Electrique, sees Allen joined with his partner Gilli Smyth (under many 'Yoni' variations, on her psychedelic ooh's and aaah's, referred to as 'space-whisper'), Drummer Pip Pyle (from Carol Grimes' Delivery, at this time), bassist Christian Tristch, Sax-Jazzer Didier Malherbe, and various other communal, tech space-heads who helped shaped this final slab of futuristic, sonic art. Each musician is adventurous on their respective instruments, and display a solid understanding of more complex musical forms and scales etc. Allen even forming his unique, Glissando-guitar technique, adding amazingly spacious textures when applied to any given piece of music. This, at least to my ears, is a truly eccentric album fusing much humour, Psychedelia, hard-rock, and complexity, as well as vividly colourful sonic experimentation and Jazzy inclinations, making for something really special. Peppered throughout the album are such amusing, Zappa-esque 'doodles' as Radio Gnome Prediction, Wet Cheese Delerium, Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads and Gnome The Second, all displaying a background of zany sounds which have been sped-up and looped, with child-like rants from Allen. Let me say this ; if you don't have a sense of humour, then skip this album, skip Gong altogether, in fact. Without getting too immersed in this rather unknown album, there are some long-ish cuts, of which the classic, heavy riff-laden You Can't Kill Me (obviously penned without cancer in mind.....), is rather well known, and the total spacey, bliss fest known as Fohat Digs Holes In Space, should be enough for the listener to be transported from their everyday drudgery. I find this a totally flawless, varied, and exciting album from late-1971, with a very 'new' sound, and has always been with me since years. No doubt an excellent album, but I grant this piece of historic Prog a glowing 5 stars, with respect to Daevid. Bless your soul, musical friend.
Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars No this isn't quite the "Radio Gnome Triology" despite the first short track being titled "Radio Gnome" but despite the lack of Steve Hillage's spaced out echo guitar trippiness, Daevid Allen in cahoots with Gilli Smyth manages to create a healthy dose of Canterbury psychedelia on his own terms. CAMBERT ELECTRIQUE is the second release by Daevid Allen's GONG and probably one of the most rockin' of the entire GONG discography. On this release it is Daevid Allen who plays guitar and bass as well as handling the expected vocal duties. BTW although my remastered copy says the first track is "Radio Gnome" i see it listed as "Radio Gnome Prediction" on the very first vinyl release as well as other subsequent releases. How clever, hmmm?

This is an interesting transition album that feels like it has connections to the heavy psych of the 60s while branching out its tentacles into a new 70s space rock style garnished with all the zaniness and humor that the Canterbury scene was so famous for. If you listen to the old Wilde Flowers and Soft Machine demos with Daevid Allen still in the band, you can trace some of these riffs to those days, only with the addition of Gilli Smyth's famous space whispering and the excellent addition of Didier Malherbe's excellent sax and flute to create some really good solid musical madness on this one. This is a great example of how to combine the Canterbury whimsy with space rock, progressive heavy rock and healthy doses of anarchic psychedelia with totally original experimental elements.

This indeed was time of the birth of the space age hippie music and Daevid Allen's decade long roster of ideas that were suppressed and underdeveloped really were allowed to bloom for the first time on CAMBERT ELECTRIQUE. This is really a fun album! Musically, lyrically, rhythmically etc. Just look at the zany titles of the songs: "Mister Long Shanks, O Mother, I Am Your Fantasy," "Dynamite: I Am Your Animal," "Fohat Digs Holes In Space!" This is just wonderful music being melodic, demented, innovative, unique, experimental, daring, sacrilegious, comical, uproarious and above all spaced out, maaaan! While most of GONG's discography displays complex band interactions, this is the one that screams out that it's Daevid Allen's baby and what a cute and adorable little baby it is! Sadly Daevid passed away recently on 13 MARCH 2015. Thank you Daevid for all this excellent music and R.I.P. No doubt this music will entertain for a very long time to come :)

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars After recently enjoying "Obsolete" by Dashiell Hedayatt with pretty much this same lineup of GONG backing him up I had to finally review "Camembert Electrique" which was released the same year as "Obsolete". According to the liner notes this is the first "real" GONG album as "Magik Brother" was a solo Daevid Allen release although they put Gilli's name on the album cover too. Subsequent re-issues changed "Magik Brother" to being a GONG recording but in reality "Camembert Electrique" is the first true GONG record. This album really does fit in well with the trilogy that would follow. It's maybe less polished and as mentioned in the liner notes "... Camembert epitomises the early GONG, ie stoned loonies having a great time, who also happen to be excellent musicians. It's full of raw energy, more tape loops, space-whisper and glissando guitar, topped off with inspired sax playing. The later albums were more sophisticated and polished but they lack the edge and anarchy of Camembert."

"Radio Gnome Prediction" and the closer "Gnome The Second" are 27 second opening and closing bits with spoken words and strange sounds. "You Can't Kill Me" is a rock song with Daevid on vocals as Gilli helps out. Sax before a minute. Check out the guitar 2 minutes in on this great instrumental section that lasts until after 3 minutes. It turns instrumental again except for Gilli's whispers then Daevid returns on vocals while Pip keeps busy on the drums, lots of sax too. "I've Bin Stone Before" sounds like a Dylan song both vocally and the theme. This is like a hymn with that floating organ helping out. Sax eventually joins in and Daevid channels Wyatt briefly before 2 minutes.

"Mister Long Shanks/ O Mother/ I Am Your Fantasy" opens with a catchy sax led section that speeds up as the vocals join in. The "O Mother" section sounds like an early Zappa tune on the chorus part. The final section starts before 2 1/2 minutes and it's melancholic and mysterious as Gilli speaks the lyrics slowly in a haunting atmosphere. Love it! "Dynamite/ I am your Animal" has this line repeated over and over as drums and more help out. It kicks into a groove before a minute as the second part of this song arrives with Gilli on vocals as sax joins in in this determined and relentless passage. Contrasts between the two sections continue.

"Wet Cheese Delirium" is a very short piece with funny spoken words and sampled sounds. "Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads" is just over 10 seconds of sampled voices. The next three tracks are my top three tunes on here, so I imagine if I owned this on vinyl back in the day I'd have worn out side two. "Fohat Digs Holes In Space" features dramatic sounds as the drums pound and spacey synths help out. It settles in quickly though with bass, percussion and spacey sounds reminding me of "Continental Circus" a soundtrack that GONG released the same year. So good! Vocals after 4 minutes as Daevid and Gilli both sing. Sax before 5 minutes after the vocals have stopped. What a great track!

My favourite though is "And You Tried So Hard". It opens sounding like heaven and it builds. Daevid's vocals are so smooth and well done. This sounds like a 60's hit before theatrical vocals and a rougher sound take over. Back to that earlier sound 2 minutes in and Gilli sings a minute later. It ends like it began. "Tropical Fish/ Selene" has funny vocal sounds to start which are replaced by an uptempo instrumental section. Vocals join in reminding me of Syd-led FLOYD. I like the instrumental section starting before 2 minutes with lots of guitar and sax. This is so good as Gilli helps out. Daevid's back vocally after 4 minutes and I love the passage before 6 minutes as Gilli sings and the guitar riffs.

A very solid 4 stars. I just want to quote the liner notes about a second manager that GONG hired back then named Giorgio Gomelsky. "One day Gomelsky turned up babbling about this band he'd seen. Like GONG, they had their mythology, even their own language-MAGMA. In due course Gomelsky took them on as well and Daevid got to see them! As he recalls, "Incredible. All these men in black with inverted tantra symbols. Their music took the breath out of your lungs, it was like upside down Wagner. Christian Vander delivered imitation Hitler speeches in the middle of drum solos, and the singer looked like Valkyrie and had a four octave voice. Anyway they were like our shadow. There was GONG, colourful, anarchic, all going different directions, but trying to pull together. MAGMA were all incredible musicians, but totally disciplined, Vander would hit them with a stick if they played a wrong note. It was like ying and yang."" Gomelsky did put them on tour together with each alternating as the headline group but there was not a single night where both bands played well.

Review by ALotOfBottle
5 stars After the release of Gong's debut album, Magick Brother, in March 1970, the group moved to a 12-room hunting lodge, Pavillion du Hay, in the French countryside, located near Voisines and Sens. The band's drummer and percussionist, Rachid Houari, left and was replaced with an English musician, Pip Pyle, previously on drums with Delivery, Steve Hillage's Khan, and briefly with a blues rock outfit Chicken Shack. In the line-up consisting of Daevid Allen, Gill Smyth, Didier Malherbe, Christian Tritsch, and Pip Pyle, the group recorded the official soundtrack to a film by Jérôme Laperrousaz, Continental Circus. In addition, they got to play at the Glastonbury Festival. In June of 1971, Gong entered the doors of Château d'Hérouville to record Camembert Electrique, which was released on the French BYG Actuel label in October of the same year.

First thing that catches one's eye before listening to the music on the album is its strange, eccentric art. The front cover portrays a black-and-white mandala with various comedic sketches, drawings, and captions around the name of the band and the album. On the back, we can see a photo of all the band members in strange outfits. The track and personnel listing as well as liner notes look to be handwritten with numerous rhymes and puns. The big signature strangely reads: "THIS IS THE FIRST ALBUM BY GONG THE BAND AND FAMILY RECORDED IN FRANCE IN 1971.". Furthermore, every musician gets their own nickname. Didier Malherbe, the saxophonist and flautist, gets the alias of "BLOOMDIDO BAD DE GRASSE" and is said to play "sassy sax" and "floating flute". Christian Tritsch, playing "aqualung bass", gets the title of "SUBMARINE CAPT." Pip Pyle's name does not change, but one will spot a caption "PIP THE HEEP" on the front cover. The instruments Pyle plays include "drumns" and "breakage". Daevid Allen names himself "BERT CAMEMBERT", while Francis Linon, the band's live sound engineer listed as "switch doctor and mix master" gets the moniker of "VENUX DE-LUXE." Gill Smyth, Allen's partner, is nicknamed "SHAKTI YONI". Robert Wyatt's son, Sam, is pictured with the band members. In addition, Gong invited two guests to help them record their album. Edouard Louise, nicknamed "EDDY LOUISS", plays Hammond organ and piano on one of the tracks. Constantin Simonovitch plays what is described as "phased piano" on one piece.

Daevid Allen's odd, comedic musical vision presented on Gong's first album, Magick Brother, is continued with Camembert Electrique. The cosmic, psychedelic atmosphere is omnipresent. In addition, the tongue-in-cheek arrangements, unorthodox harmonic solutions, and strange lyrics play a crucial role in the album's distinctive sound. Didier Malherbe recalls that one of the key elements to the unique character of Gong's music was the inexplicable doctrine, pataphysics. Although one will still be able to detect elements of the sixties' psychedelic boom, it is undoubtedly being estranged with more modern methods being put in the foreground. One thing that remains very similar is the application of influences from jazz, specifically artists such as Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Ornette Coleman. The overall delivery of the music seems to be aimed at approaching the listener with unexpected, startling, and at times even baffling and superficial moments. Although it may occasionally seem like it, Camembert Electrique is by no means a pretentious creation, with every idea or thought actually contributing to the final result.

The album opens with odd high-pitched voices and electronic effects of "Radio Gnome Prediction", which quickly dissolve into "You Can't Kill Me". The piece basically sets the mood for the rest of the album with its cosmic jazz-rock theme. One of the highlights of the track is the way Daevid Allen's singing matches the phrasing of his guitar and Didier Malherbe's saxophone parts on odd rhythm patterns. "I've Bin Stoned Before" begins as a slow, solemn, yet amusing march dominated by vocals and liturgical Hammond organ. The piece descends into psychedelic madness, which opens "Mister Long Shanks/O Mother/I Am Your Fantasy". This song has somewhat of a count-out-rhyme feel in its opening. The theme is quickly dropped for "O Mother", which sounds a bit like an avant-garde take on a simple pop song. "I Am Your Fantasy" part is much calmer, spacey, almost ambient with Gill Smyth's gentle, feminine voice. On the contrary, "Dynamite/I Am Your Animal" begins with a punchy motif that is repeated with new sounds added every four bars. Then, an ominous groove in an odd time signature kicks in, with Daevid Allen's whimsical, peculiar yelling and weeping. The motif from "You Can't Kill Me" appears towards the end of the song. "Wet Cheese Delirium" closes the side similarly to how it was opened, with sampled voices and electronic sounds. It also features a locked groove, which is especially interesting, if you are listening to the album on vinyl. Side two is opened with "Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads", which yet again consists of vocal and electronic samples. "Fohat Digs Holes In Space" begins with a cosmic jazz-rock jam. Then, the main theme is introduced, dissolving into a more song-oriented scenario. "And You Tried So Hard" has somewhat of the Revolver-era Beatles-like feel. That is until the more varied parts kick in. But even with that, it is clear that the song follows a more traditional pop pattern. "Tropical Fish/Selene", being the last true piece of the album, emphasizes all of Camembert Electrique's basic ingredients - psychedelic rock, quirky jazz, odd rhythmic patterns, odd lyrics, contrasted segments. Daevid Allen's last words on "Tropical Fish/Selene" are "Ca-mem-bert E-lec-trique", as if concluding and summing up the whole listening experience. Similarly to all other side openers and closers, "Gnome The Second" compiles odd samples and also features a locked groove.

Dripping with exaggerated psychedelic weirdness and unorthodox musicianship, Camembert Electrique witnesses the meeting of space rock, psychedelia, jazz-rock, and high-quality cabaret. The album is an incredibly fascinating and rewarding journey through the band's sophisticated, tangled fantasy. Furthermore, this release points the way towards what is known as Gong's "classic" era - the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy. A pivotal record and simply plain joy to listen to. Highly recommended!

Latest members reviews

3 stars This is the work of a group looking their way in the midst of different musical styles. It is not perfect yet but You can hear some good songs in the middle (Fohat Digs Holes In Space). The group boast the best sax player in prog rock (Didier Malherbe) and He is in full form here. So, this is not ... (read more)

Report this review (#1319584) | Posted by steelyhead | Wednesday, December 3, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album sat around on my computer for years, unappreciated. I first heard it when I was younger and couldn't appreciate its psychedelic absurdity. Now that I've gotten older and become more acquainted with the likes of Mr. Bungle and Frank Zappa, I can see that Camembert Electrique is a del ... (read more)

Report this review (#350168) | Posted by 40footwolf | Saturday, December 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Welcome to the Planet Gong. This album was issue by Virgin in around 1974, original issue was by BYG in France. Virgin signed GONG to the label but they had no new product for release. So Virgin issued this album for the price of a single. At the time I was only 13/14 and listening to Sla ... (read more)

Report this review (#326694) | Posted by tw0sheds | Saturday, November 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Camembert Electrique is the one of the three quintessential Canterbury albums (the others being Third by the Soft Machine and In the Land of Grey and Pink by Caravan); it is, indeed, Gong's greatest achievement under the artistic direction of Daevid Allen. The thing that separates this album, an ... (read more)

Report this review (#259357) | Posted by classicprogsovereign | Monday, January 4, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is GONG's second album and my first real meeting with one of their albums. I had only been listening to Shamal once before I gave this album the customary ten spins before I starting to write these lines. I get the feeling that I am faaaaar out of my dept and comfort zone during my first ... (read more)

Report this review (#218317) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars My introduction to Gong was this album. I'll always remember the first time my ears pricked: it was about 10 years ago and me and a friend were playing Worms on the Playstation when he put on a tape for the was the switch that You Can't Kill Me makes after a couple of minutes with ... (read more)

Report this review (#156308) | Posted by dholl | Saturday, December 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 9.0/10 Incredible Wow, well, let me first start off by saying this band is incredible, innovative, and full of genius and excitement. Gong is in development here actually, and not the "epic" line-up we will find on the next few albums. But the music on Camambert is brilliant for the most p ... (read more)

Report this review (#147241) | Posted by The Lost Chord | Friday, October 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Compaired to Flying Teapot and Angel's Egg, Camembert Electrique is more raw and rockish, less synthesizer/space. You Can't Kill Me is a rock song that has semi-shocking lyrics "you can kill my father, you can kill my son, you can kill my children...with a gun" some treated vocals, great poundin ... (read more)

Report this review (#127488) | Posted by Jake E. | Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the real gem in the Gong legacy. Musically they hardly put a foot wrong, the lyrics are a different matter but even in that respect this is better than anything else they did. The first release of this LP was at the super cheap price of 50p and because of this the album charted here. ... (read more)

Report this review (#91917) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Monday, September 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Great psychedelic album by one of the topmost prog bands from OZ!! The sounds really are very trippy and make you want to enjoy life better. Best listened to under the blue sky on a summer's day with your g-friend/b-friend. A must in every rocker's music library! ... (read more)

Report this review (#70049) | Posted by | Monday, February 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Camembert by far is Gong's masterpiece. I get chills everytime I hear the sax solo on "You Can't Kill Me". "Mister Long Shanks" and the beautiful "Oh Mother" ranks among Gong's best. And just beautiful playing by the band all throughout This or Magik Brother are good way's to introduce you ... (read more)

Report this review (#60866) | Posted by Hendrix828 | Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The second work of announcement in 1971 "Camembert Electrique". This work that starts from the whisper of "Radio Gnomes" is an extraordinary masterpiece that invents the unique space psychedelically world. It is stylish and an exorbitantly wonderful rock though it is strange music. It is a gen ... (read more)

Report this review (#43781) | Posted by braindamage | Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album definately is essential. I'm not much of a fan of later gong, but this album is 100% pure scorching jazz\rock. All members are in top form. The soloing in You Can't Kill me and Fohat Digs Holes In Space completely blow away anything Black Sabbath were doing around the same time. The s ... (read more)

Report this review (#27587) | Posted by lpd42 | Friday, May 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Just a hair under 5-stars, this is (as the other reviewers note) a great Gong album. Contains some of Gong's classic songs, such as You Can't Kill Me and Dynamite. (My favourite is the Long Shanks/O Mother/ Fantasy). Very fun listening, makes you want to put in on over-and-over again. ... (read more)

Report this review (#27582) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 4, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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